Winners and Losers
Getting a piece of the proverbial pie is a motivation that can be traced back to the very first instance there was limited resources for a population of organisms. It has driven evolution, altered history, and defined cultures. In the progression from being solitary to forming groups and social structures, history has shown that cooperation generally produces greater results than what could be produced by an individual alone.
In understanding the dynamics of social structures, it’s always important to view winning and losing in the proper context of what’s at stake and how to minimize losses and while maximizing wins. Assuming there are two players in a given situation, what are some implications when examining combinations of winning and losing?
Lose – Lose
Lose – Lose situations are often driven by malicious or negative emotions; a bad place to start any interaction. In a situation where both players have something to lose, the whole objective is to see who loses less. A perfect example of this is in a divorce. Lust and passion may have brought two people together.
However, extenuating circumstances ultimately rip a couple apart. Especially when there are children and assets involved, things like custody, property, and money may be positioned as things to be won, but it’s really difficult to say that there are any winners when stress, anxiety and splitting apart leave hurt feelings and lasting scars in battles that are rarely amicable.
In the process of any lose – lose situation, the entire goal is to lose less than the other person. It’s like a price war between two competitors where in an effort to undercut each other, the price of merchandise or services get’s driven so low it becomes a battle of who can suffer longer until the other business folds. Lose – Lose situations should be avoided whenever possible.
Win – Lose
A Win – Lose situation is certainly better than a Lose – Lose situation. At the very least, something positive comes out for one party. Entering into a win – lose scenario, both parties know there is a possibility of winning. If they prepare properly, can manage to get up after being knocked down, and persevere, then whoever is more prepared to execute on a solid strategy will come out as the winner.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or any competitive sport illustrates a Win – Lose scenario. The nature of these situations force the competitors to practice their skills in preparation and anticipation of victory. Here, we start to delve into the world of possibility. How high is high? What does excellence look like?
Win – Lose scenarios are the first stage where innovation arises in a positive way to influence and drive outcomes. Performance is elevated and boundaries are constantly pushed. Through Win – Lose scenarios, individuals rally and groups form to cheer on the party they support. As long as motivations and intentions are coming from the right place, and transparency in the execution of a strategy is available, Win – Lose situations show demonstrate to the world what is possible when there is something positive to be gained.
Win – Win
In a situation where both parties recognize the potential benefits of working together, we have a Win – Win scenario. This can be seen in nature as symbiotic relationships, in moral lessons as the Golden Rule, and in the business world as successful partnerships.
One of the most important pillars of a Win – Win scenario is trust. When any party enters into an interaction anticipating a Win – Win, they enter with an understanding that they can trust the other party and that the other party can trust them. Trust is the currency exchanged between those two parties or entities that allows for high performance; the type of high performance that allows everyone involved to execute and achieve at a level of excellence that creates powerful results seldom seen in a Lose – Lose or Win – Lose scenario. Participants in a Win – Win scenario are committed to achieving an outcome where success is marked by a milestone in which an outcome is a win for both parties involved.
Why Win – Win scenarios are usually rare, is because after a certain point in life, after being burned, after recovering from failures, parties are usually guarded. There may be a high level of initial suspicion that never dissipates. As distrust leads to miscommunication and lack of communication, barriers come up and suppressed feelings fester and the interaction becomes so unstable that arrangements will fall apart. Having more than one party involved and having a successful outcome is even more rare as parties may be hesitant to open themselves up to others.
To be fortunate enough to enter into a Win – Win scenario, where trust and open communication, hard work, and commitment form the foundation for optimal outcomes, everyone involved must be able to recognize the positive aspects in others, all while opening up and making yourself vulnerable so that the other party knows they can trust you. It is only then that other parties realize that you are invested and that everyone has each other’s backs.
In the Real World
Truth be told, in real world interactions, all three scenarios exists at the same time. We are constantly working to get a point across and convince others of our point of view. We seek validation and confirmation in every battle. The most important thing to remember is to realize and understand that there are many ways into the house, and to trust and recognize people’s strengths, and to let them flourish through those strengths.
Consistent and solid execution, as well as trust and committed communication will help to maximize your odds every time you’re in a Win – Win scenario.